Reading Reviews From Member: Renfair
196 Reviews Found

Review #1, by RenfairAd Venenum: To Poison

22nd February 2013:
Hi Rachel! Yay! I'm so glad the review exchange has given me an excuse to read something else of yours. My fan fiction reading lately has been... zilch. Which really bums me out since I know there is an unimaginable amount of good writing out there. I've been trying to sign up for the exchange at least every other month or so to keep a trickle of reading coming and to expose me to some wonderful stories I normally wouldn't be able to read due to real life constraints :)

So on to your review! I love reading stuff of yours because without even starting I know, at the very least, I'm going to get a clean, well-written story. Commas are always where they're supposed to be, spelling and canon references are perfect, et cetera. I don't usually set out to read a piece critically, like I'm beta-reading it, but sometimes I can't help myself. So your stuff is extra nice because I don't end up distracting myself with noticing grammatical errors left and right :)

The description is just great. Maybe because it's the same time of year right now, but the beginning in particular with the old, mostly melted snow dirtied by shop patrons just transported me there instantly. I could feel the biting wind, whistling nastily down the alleyway, nipping the back of Lavender's neck. We can tell from her behavior straight off that she's doing something dodgy, and the cold winter setting fits perfectly. It wouldn't seem nearly as sinister in the summer with everyone in sun dresses eating ice cream cones. Only one description confused me for a sec: "and folds of black cloth that hardly looked real covered nearly every inch of her dark skin." --I'm not sure what exactly you meant by "real." What came to my mind with it worded that way was that the black was almost transparent and weightless like smoke, sort of the way Voldemort's robes are in the GoF movie when he's reborn. Maybe just a little more clarification in that one sentence would help drag the reader even deeper down into the darkness Lavender seems to be falling into herself.

I liked the format of breaking it up into segments with the time. I can almost hear the "Law and Order" dunk-dunk chime with each time stamp (ok, I have no idea how to describe that noise, but if you watch the show you know what I'm talking about...)

Are you like me in that you sort of wonder how Knockturn Alley is even allowed to exist? It seems like it should be a huge neon sign with arrow pointing down to say, "HEY, AURORS! REALLY ILLEGAL, DARK STUFF HAPPENING HERE!" But that's part of our willing suspension of disbelief in the Potterverse. Your creepy lady with the knotted hair was just...eew. Creepy. Must be the daughter of the one who was trying to sell fingernails to Harry in CoS. See, that's why you need to pass your O.W.L.s. Fail your exams and you end up either being a conductor for the Knight Bus or selling body parts on trays. Kind of makes you think Hermione wasn't quite so mental with her marathon revising before exam time.

It's interesting how Lavender's paranoia seems to evaporate after obtaining the poisonous candle. At the very beginning, she nearly freaks out considering if the man she randomly bumped into would remember her face. Then later at the Ministry, she comes face-to-face with Harry, who obviously knows exactly who she is, and she's so high on her mission that she doesn't even care. I think this ties in well with your final author's note about mental illness. Obviously something's gone wrong with Lavender, who maybe wasn't quite perfectly all right when she was at school with her obsession with Ron. Innocent teenage infatuation or something darker? I like how you took it to the dark place.

Until I got to the very end, I had the thought in the back of my mind that maybe she was going to actually poison herself in his office, not Ron. Sort of a "I can't live without you" thing with the added bonus of maybe implicating Ron in her death if it was in his office at the Ministry. But in the end Ron bit the dust after all. I can't say I'm disappointed since Ron was never one of my favorite characters. Maybe Hermione can marry Viktor Krum now like she was "supposed" to (you know, in my mind.)

One last thing, and this is only something I noticed and was curious about because I took years of Latin in school so 90% or more of your readers wouldn't pick up on it. The story title, "Ad Venenum," means "to poison," like you said, but as a prepositional phrase, as in "toward poison." Did you mean it as an infinitive, like "To poison Ron would be awesome" instead? Because that would be "venenare." I think either works, personally. In the first half of the piece, Lavender is literally making her way TO the poison. Funny how we both used foreign languages for the titles we reviewed in this exchange. I'm acutally not 100% sure mine is right! Hahaha... I think I might have reversed the word order, but I'm pretty sure it's ok. Like I said, I'm just being nit-picky cause it's so rare I get to talk about Latin, and I totally miss studying it. :)

Great job as always, Rachel! Thanks so much for your review too! I'm off to reply now, if you want to check back when you have a chance. Keep up your writing, ok?! I demand it!! You're too good at your age to not get something published by the time you're mine! ~Renny

Author's Response: Renny! ♥ Okay, first and foremost -- I know I said it would probably take me a while to respond to your review, but I didn't think it would take THIS long. Yikes! Please forgive me for being so tardy!

I always appreciate a well-written story (like yours!), so knowing you feel the same about m writing is quite lovely. And I'm so glad you like my description, too! Call me weird, but since starting my mass media writing class this semester -- I'm a professional writing major, but that's through the journalism college, which means I need to take a bunch of standard journalism classes before moving on to novels and short stories and the like -- I feel like my writing's become more terse and to-the-point than it has been in the past, which isn't something I'm sure I like. So knowing that someone sees things like descriptions and still enjoys them is a huge boost of confidence! I see what you mean about the "real" cloth, and I was trying to sort of allude to that ephemeral, shadowed cloth like Voldemort's. I'm heading right back to this story as soon as I finish typing up this response to make that a bit clearer. Thank you!

I know exactly what "Law and Order" sound you mean! :D I didn't do that intentionally, but now you've pointed it out, I totally see the whole timestamp dunk-dunk chime. :P And also -- right?! Knockturn Alley is officially the sketchiest place in the entire universe. Hagrid's description of it being "dodgy" doesn't even begin to come close. They are doing straight-up Dark stuff there, yo.

Lavender's "mental illness" does evolve a bit over the story, and that was intentional -- I'm glad that you pointed it out. :) She gets just a bit more careless, almost reckless, toward the end, and I kind of think she subconsciously wants to be caught, wants someone to stop her, but Harry fails to do so. Her infatuation is a bit darker than just teenage puppy love; in my headcanon (and people are totally free to interpret it differently) Lavender didn't die in the Battle of Hogwarts, like the movies allude to, but just got severely injured by Greyback. I think that she could have have a bit of brain damage from that injury, resulting in the Lavender I wrote about here. But taking into consideration the fact we don't know she's alive for sure, you could question whether this entire thing actually happened at all...

Confession: I love Ron/Hermione, but I'm a secret Krum/Hermione shipper too. :P There are several good ones out there!

I'm definitely going to keep writing! ♥ When I get such lovely feedback from kind reviewers such as yourself, how could I not? Your vote of confidence seriously does mean so much to me, though, and I really do mean that.

Thank you for exchanging with me this month!!

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Review #2, by RenfairDiamonds into Coal: A Birthday Feast

28th December 2012:
Ok! So now we're getting somewhere ;) Just kidding! The first chapter was lovely, but I'm glad I have a name for the Bloody Baron now. Venn is a very cool name, and you definitely threw me for a momentary loop with his last name being Selwyn. I thought I'd been wrong with his uncle being Salazar, but turns out I was right (since you set it up pretty obviously with the locket. Hehe. Interesting that Venn is a Selwyn since that's the name Umbridge pretended the "S" on the locket stood for in "Deathly Hallows." I guess it's pretty likely all these families were intertwined for hundreds and hundreds of years anyway.) I definitely appreciated your brief note at the end about the names. I also try to pick relevant names in my own stories, so I'm always interested to hear the meaning behind other people's. I think the age of twenty-five for inheritance makes a lot of sense with wizards living longer, like you said.

One thing that I think is kind of neat and might be different from a lot of Founders fics out there (I'm guessing since I've never read any others) is that it seems like you're starting this story out before Hogwarts was even founded. It sounds like Salazar barely even knows Rowena. It will make for an interesting relationship in the school later with them having to work next to each other after Salazar's nephew kills Rowena's daughter along with himself :(
For a brief moment I thought you were setting up some secret Salazar/Edeline action down the road until I figured out that, duh, they're probably brother and sister. She'd be a Slytherin herself, not a Selwyn, if she'd married Salazar's brother. There goes my big conspiracy theory of how Salazar killed Venn's dad to get with his wife (too much Hamlet on my mind I guess!)

All of the details in this seemed very period and fitting from the way you described the food at the feast (and seriously, you can't have a medieval setting without bread and cheese somewhere. You simply can't.) The emphasis on Venn needing to marry and continue his family line seems very accurate for the time period too. I like how spirited you're making Helena out to be besides just being beautiful. I would imagine being independent and unwilling to marry as a woman back then might not have been the most smiled upon thing. I'm curious how you're going to turn regular Venn, who had no interest in getting married, into the obsessed man who is so in love with Helena eventually that he destroys her.

Ok, well I guess that's it for now! This was a great pairing for me, and I'm glad I've finally gotten to read something else of yours. I'd love to continue with this when I have the time! I might take a review exchange or two off for a little while to hopefully make SOME progress on my own writing, but I would certainly not object to being paired with you again down the road! Have a great New Year!

Author's Response: Hello again!

Yes, you guessed correctly! Well done! :) The Selwyn family felt like a natural choice to tie in there with Salazar, especially given what we know about the locket. I tried to think of what would cause the Bloody Baron to end up being the ghost of Slytherin House, out of all the ghosts out there, and I figured it would make sense if he was part of Salazar's family.

Hah, I like your conspiracy theory! Actually, Rowena and Salazar have already been working together for a time in the setting for this story. As you'll see, Hogwarts has been founded, and it's even graduated its first students. However, a lot of the kinks are still being worked out--to put it mildly.

Hopefully you'll read on and get to know Venn and Helena a little more. I tried to make them complex and interesting and, more than anything, give the readers reasons to love and hate them both at alternating moments. I'm having way too much fun figuring them out and fleshing out their characterization with historical details, canon pieces, and my own crazy ideas. I hope you'll like the final product!

Thanks again for your very kind review :)


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Review #3, by RenfairDiamonds into Coal: Erised

28th December 2012:
Hi hi! Renny here with your review exchange, finally :) Well first off, I'm very interested in this story since I've never read a Founders fic before. Not quite sure how that happened, but there you are. I also always found the story of Helena Ravenclaw and the Bloody Baron to be horribly romantic in a, well, horrible sort of way, so it will be interesting to see how you handle your own take on it.

Right away I had a pleasant surprise since you don't delve right into Medieval Hogwarts. I really like how you start us out in familiar territory with modern-day Hogwarts and the Mirror of Erised. You also immediately answered a question that had sprung to mind, picky old me wondering if the inscription on the mirror wouldn't have had slightly different spelling if it was from the year 1000 or before.

You start this story out on such a melancholy note. It seems like it's going to be one of those stories that's equally romantic and depressing at the same time since we obviously know their love had a very violent ending. The idea of the Baron torturing himself for possibly hundreds of years in front of the mirror is just heartbreaking. Can a ghost be driven mad, I wonder? If anything, I'd say he's certainly paid enough of a price for his crimes by now.

Only a couple of things hung me up momentarily as I was reading this first chapter. First, how you mentioned his "dark brown eyes" when he's a transparent, silvery ghost. I'm figuring that he's simply remembering himself as he was? Also when he is viewing himself in his military coat I feel thrown off. I'm in no way an expert in military history, but the idea that they'd be using terms like second lieutenant in the Middle Ages seems off somehow to me. I also can't picture them having official medals yet to be decorated with in this time period. Again I could be totally wrong with my history, but the way you describe him is bringing to mind a character more from the eighteenth or nineteenth century to me than the tenth. Not to be cliche, but a hauberk and tabard might have seemed more fitting, or simply robes or a tunic. Just thought I'd mention my own personal impressions of that one part. You wrote Helena's description so beautifully and so fitting so the time period that the Baron's was just a little jarring for a second before I fell back into the vision you're creating. Of course, the awesome thing about fan fiction, and the Founder era in particular since there's so little written in canon about it, is that you can do whatever you want! You can totally counter with, "Yeah, well, I imagine the wizard military was organized much earlier than the Muggle one, which later adopted the wizarding ranks and medals for their own use." That's half the fun of writing a different era. You get to make up your own rules!

Hmmm, I'm wondering who his uncle is? The "S" and the fact that it's a Founders fic combined with the Baron's post as resident Slytherin ghost is making me think old Salazar, but I guess I'll have to keep reading to see if I'm right ;)

The way you described the Bloody Baron in this opening chapter kind of makes me think of Snape (cause I'm not at all obsessed and in no way does anything ever make me always think of Snape. I swear.) Just the idea of this man who from usual outwards appearances through Harry's eyes in the books is cold, stoic, basically completely silent and scary who on the inside was harboring a secret, seemingly unrequited passion for a woman he was never able to have. Of course I don't know the exact story between your two main characters yet, so maybe the love wasn't completely unrequited, but it still sort of reminds me of Snape in a way. You're already eliciting a very sympathetic response from me with regards to the Baron. I guess I should dislike him since he was kind of a murderer and all, but the way you're writing him it makes me wonder instead what Helena could have possibly done to drive him to it?

Well, very interesting first chapter! I'm going to continue on to the second one now to see where you're headed with this.

Author's Response: Hi Renny! Thanks for the exchange!

I'm pleased that you like the strange way I chose to begin this story. I couldn't think of a better way to show just how miserable the Baron is than to have him gazing endlessly, mournfully into the cruel Mirror of Erised. I have no idea if the writing would have been different, but I stuck with the inscription from canon because... well, because I like canon :) It's great that you found that choice relatable era-wise and that you were intrigued by it.

Ooh, good catch with the eyes. I guess that is a little weird, but yeah, I figured he would still think of himself as he once was, especially since being a ghost gives him such despair. As to the jacket, I'll admit that I didn't do as much heavy research with that, and I wanted to tie in the banner (with my relentless OUAT feels) and a theme of jackets that will show up time and again throughout the story. Hopefully it didn't throw you off too much, and I'm glad you liked what I did with Helena.

I won't give anything away :D Keep reading!

You know, he's a little like Snape, but I think of him as being yet a bit more tragic, in a way. Without giving too much away, I'll say that the Baron will get enough of a taste of what it would be like to be with Helena that I would imagine his loss of her being doubly painful, even compared to the heartache that Snape experienced by not having Lily. If you feel sympathetic towards the Baron, I'll consider that a win, because that's what I want people to feel. Everyone always has so much pity for Helena, but we don't really know what happened. I hope to stir up some of that conflict with the story from here on out.

Thanks for this lovely review :)


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Review #4, by RenfairIvory: Ivory

25th December 2012:
Ho Ho Ho! It's Secret Santa Renny with your Christmas TGS surprise! It's... a maxed-out review for lucky ol' you!

Browsing your impressive author's page, I was immediately drawn to this story after reading the summary. I studied ballet very seriously when I was younger with hopes of becoming a professional myself so I'm very familiar with the ballet of "Swan Lake." I can definitely see how the ballet and the music in particular would spur you to write something of your own. It's definitely one of Tchaikovsky's best works.

I obviously wasn't expecting a direct retelling with Harry Potter characters inserted, but you surprised me with just how abstract this one-shot is. I don't think that this is a bad thing at all. It makes it enjoyable for both the reader who is familiar with the Swan Lake story but also accessible to someone who isn't. The "other pairing" ship is always interesting to me because unless it's very obvious from the description, you don't know exactly what you're getting (kind of like on Christmas morning!). It took me a little while to guess who the male was (ok, pretty much until you flat-out named him). I had Draco in mind for some reason, probably because of his marriage to Astoria in canon, but I'm glad you didn't go with that expected choice. Theodore Nott is someone we basically know nothing about besides his father being a Death Eater so he's a great blank canvas to work with. I also think having him be a Slytherin gives him that subtle "princely" feel like the male lead in Swan Lake. Obviously there were poorer people in Slytherin like Snape, but I think we all usually assume Slytherins were pure-bloods and loaded like the Malfoys.

Something I found interesting, and I don't know if you did this on purpose or if I'm reading too much into it, was that it seems like you combined the characters of Prince Sigfried and Von Rothbart, the evil sorcerer, in Theodore. It's convenient that Theodore happens to be a wizard since that ties into the ballet nicely. I guess the sorcerer's motivation for turning Odette into a swan is never actually given in the ballet, but I'd always assumed it was because he was in love with her and she rejected him (maybe "Ladyhawke" with Michelle Pfeiffer is influencing me subconsciously) and then he in turn made sure to prevent the prince from having Odette as well. In your story, Theodore obviously loves Daphne, or at least loves her appearance or the idea of her, and this borderline obsessive love both holds her captive, like Odette's swan curse, and eventually nearly destroys her. So in this story, your main male character is sort of both a protagonist and an antagonist at the same time. I found that kind of cool.

One thing I was surprised you didn't do was utilize Astoria a bit more. One of the more famous variations from the ballet is the dance of the Black Swan, so I was somehow expecting Astoria, who I imagine looks almost identical to Daphne from your descriptions like how Odette and Odile were nearly identical (and are usually danced by the same ballerina) to be used somehow has a tool to further drive her sister and Theodore apart. Maybe through Theodore cheating on Daphne with Astoria in his frustration with his seeming inability to make Daphne happy. But I also feel maybe in your story Astoria might be too young to fulfill this role of temptress? I got the impression from her idolization of her sister that Daphne was definitely a few years older than her (I have no clue how far apart they're supposed to be in canon.) I guess none of this matter since your interpretation of the ballet in the Harry Potter world is so creative and full of imagery rather than dialogue and what I'd consider "usual" storytelling for fan fiction, but I was a little jarred by the omission. It's probably my own fault for going into this with the ballet so familiar in my mind.

The imagery and description in this one-shot was just great. It was one of those one-shots that seems deceptively long when you're reading it compared to how long you feel it should be going by the word count. I could feel your purpose and thought while writing this, crafting every sentence carefully. I mean seriously, it's almost impossible for me to pick out examples since almost every act is full of incredibly creative and emotive descriptions. For instance this: "Wisps of fog furl over distant hills, creep up far-away valleys and gently curl around his feet. Isolation sleeps deeply amongst the landscape, resting in long grasses and dreaming in the woods. A murmur of a breeze rustles green leaves. It looks beautiful." I can almost see the scenery from the ballet, which is also abstract enough to let the audience inject some of their own imagination and the dancers their own interpretation of the ballet into the setting. Normally I'm not a huge fan of one-shots that are themselves broken up into numerous segments, but the way you did it was very fitting and not distracting at all. It's probably because the writing itself was so rich, like I said before, that it made each act feel longer than it was so they really could stand on their own within a single chapter.

The ending was surprising since it wasn't a double love suicide like the ballet but still very fitting for your characters. Daphne is still set free from the "curse" that had been slowly destroying her like Odette is in the end, but not by Theodore's/Sigfried's love. On the one hand, I feel so sorry for her that she didn't end up having the "happy ending" in the classical sense (though how happy it is for two people drowning themselves is debatable) but the feminist in me says, "Alright! You don't need that man who doesn't love you for YOU!"

All in all, this was a great piece. It makes someone like me who knows the ballet think about it a little harder. Did the prince love Odette herself, or just the beautiful swan-woman? Thanks for the interesting insight and the great read! Merry Christmas!
~Renny :)

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Review #5, by RenfairSolstice: I

18th November 2012:
Hi Lia! It's Renny with our review exchange. Well, right off the bat I was excited since this is a Severus story and I'm just an eensy-teensy bit in love with him :P

This is my favorite kind of one shot; a missing moment, slice of life piece that really explores a single character more deeply than what we're given in the original books. I thought you did a great job with this. I know from "When the Storm Breaks" (which I have shamefully, SHAMEFULLY not gotten back to recently!!) that you're really good at getting inside a character's head, especially one where you don't get much of their interior motives from canon like Lucius or Severus (at least until the very end of DH).

So one thing I love about Severus-centric fics is that I don't think I've ever read a bad one. People like us who write about him tend to deeply care about the character and therefore are really careful about trying to write him accurately and respectfully, as much as you can respect a fictional character that is. Like I already said, you did a great job capturing Severus as a child. I can see easily how his bitter, sarcastic personality as an adult could stem directly from how you've written him as a child and adolescent: first his innocence about magic being slowly chipped away and smothered by his father, which leads to an almost temporary rejection of it before he starts school to simply keep things at home having some semblance of normalcy. The realization you give him right at the end is great. Again, it sets the tone for how Severus is as an adult. You'd think that since he had such a rough childhood, it would make him more understanding of what Harry went through growing up, especially since he cared about his mother so much. But life in Spinner's End hardened Severus and made him into a survivor, not an empathizer. Sort of the type of man who must have looked at scrawny, first year Harry, seen both himself and the hateful James in him and thought, "So what? Life sucks. Get over it and get used to it, kid." and moved on to continue to hate him despite his promise to protect him.

I like how you broke up the story into short snippets. It helps to show time passing or even just his thought process changing without needing a big explanation. The picky part of me would prefer if there wasn't so much spacing around the line breaks, but I know the site can make it crazily hard to format the story correctly and often doubles the spacing you originally intended. As far as other nit-picky things, I didn't notice any errors like spelling or punctuation, but I was reading for enjoyment and not critically. I doubt if I had my beta hat on, I would have found anything anyway. :)

Personally, I really appreciated how you didn't even touch how Lily influenced his character. Maybe it's because I was already so invested in Severus's character before DH came out that I sort of excepted his love for Lily without it making me all, "Aw!! That's SO SWEET!!!" and going off to write dozens of stories about it. I don't mind Severus/Lily stories at all, but I also like ones that are just about him, you know? I still like the idea that he could have changed sides and joined the Order simply because it was the right thing to do, not because he was obsessed with a woman.

For me, the brief snippets we saw of his childhood in OotP was what made me start to really care about Severus early on in the series. It helped explain why he was the way he was and raised more empathy within me than for his counter-point in that book, Sirius, who only made his life worse than it already was. I think this one-shot is a great fleshing out of some of those snapshot memories we saw during Harry's Occlumency sessions. You should definitely be proud of this little piece! Great job!

Author's Response: Renny. I am so sorry I took so long to get back to this. I have no excuses at all.

I'm a bit daunted of writing Severus Snape. He's an incredible character and a very complex individual. He's one of those characters I like to call 'untouchables' - only JKR can write them how they are supposed to be written. When I do attempt them, I try to be careful, like you've rightly said.

I LOVE missing moments and they can only be written in one-shot or drabble form. They are just enough to keep a reader satisfied especially with characters like these.

I was curious about Severus as a child. Most of what I've seen is based on his teenage years and later. The scene that plays a lot in my head when I think of his childhood is the one where we see a child crying in the corner as drama unfolds somewhere else in the house - from OoTP, Snape's Worst Memory. Before that, most readers considered Snape an awful, jealous man with a grudge. But as children we never really think that these traits are made and not born. I think he was stuck in an unfortunate household with someone who was much like Petunia was to Lily about magic. The major difference here is that while Petunia chose to distance herself from her sister, Tobias Snape lashed out against something he could not possibly understand.

I love that you said Snape's experiences made him into a survivor. You would expect him to understand what Harry has been through, but things were a bit more difficult for Severus. He didn't have many friends at Hogwarts though, while everyone wanted to be Harry's when he arrived. In the end things never really got better for Severus while Harry's life improved over time. I'm not an advocate of the 'tough love' concept, but I completely understand your point there.

Snapshots within a big snapshot. There is (hopefully) enough information there, but not an entire essay, you know? I hate formatting, seriously. Before it wasn't this difficult! I got frustrated, so I decided to leave it as it was, otherwise I would have spent more time than I intended.

Aww, why thank you. Honestly, I didn't think it was completely necessary to include her. His life continued without her for years afterwards. He still had his demons to deal with and I'm sure this is one part of his life that he'd like to keep to himself. I don't mind the pairing either, but I like seeing Snape stand alone too. I wonder how much I would like him if he were to switch sides. Like you said, it would be different if it did happen because of Lily. To be fair, he did turn his life upside down for her.

Ooh, exactly! Like I said before, I like to believe that certain things happen to people because of their experiences, not because they were born that way. My heart softened towards Snape in OoTP as well, especially how he was bullied unfairly. Like it or not, James and Sirius were bullies, plain and simple.

Thanks so much for such a long and thoughtful review, Renny.


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Review #6, by RenfairRowan and Phoenix: The Department of Mysteries

10th September 2012:
Hi hi! Again, it's been a shamefully long time since I've reviewed this story. I knew there was only one chapter that was posted left, so I put it off so I wouldn't be at the end of it. Then...I forgot I still had a chapter! And then.what? This chapter only has one other review so far? That's absolutely scandalous in my book, especially since your chapters just keep getting better and better.

I always especially enjoy your Severus-centric chapters. You're so amazing at writing him, especially from his own point of view, that it's always such a pleasure to read what you come up with. Even though the story is AU, I always find the way you have Severus react to these new situations to be so canon and fitting, especially when you think about how he's only in his early 20's in your stories.

I really loved the opening scene at the Department of Mysteries. It's like watching Severus go through the Five Stages of Trying to Gain Access to Something He Shouldn't. First there's business-like superiority, then bribery, then lying, then self-deprecation followed by acceptance of needing to try a different avenue. I also enjoyed the dialogue between Severus and Madam Pince. I never thought about those two ever interacting (since I kind of never thought of Madam Pince interacting with anyone, just hiding in the back of her library kissing her books or something like that). But I think they get along well, in a grudgingly tolerant sort of way.

I see that I was right with my own guesses that Melora turned into sort of a new horcrux like Harry did in canon, but in a much more serious sense, almost like how Voldemort possessed Quirrell. Poor Melora. It looks like she doesn't have a whole lot of time left.

This was such an interesting chapter. I hope you're able to update soon, but I know I have no ground to stand on with that request since I'm horrible at updating my own stories. Life's been kicking our butts this summer, huh? But maybe now that it's fall we'll be able to reboot and churn out some new, awesome stuff! I can't wait to see where you're taking this story! ~Renny

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Review #7, by RenfairRun: The Prince and His Beloved

4th August 2012:
Hi! Well, I have to apologize that this is my first review for this story. I always leave reviews for every chapter when I'm reading, but since I really wanted to fit this story in to finish up the last review challenge at TGS, I decided it was better to just read read read to save time. I've wanted to read this story for a while now after hearing lots of people raving about it. I can definitely say that it's living up to my high expectations of it. Hopefully this review won't be too unorganized and rambling. Since I'm reviewing 7 chapters in one, I'll probably keep thinking of things I want to comment on.

First off, this was such a great idea you had! You forget while reading the books how many people actually die in them since the deaths are pretty spread out throughout the whole series. Throughout the entire part I read you kept surprising me with mentions of characters I had forgotten would be there like Barty Crouch or Luna's mom. Lots of the character interactions were really funny or interesting, like the idea of Regulus taking the mickey out of his drinking partner Dobby.

Obviously the idea of a competition to the "death" isn't new (and is actually a bit saturated at the moment with the Hunger Games obsession), but I think you've definitely taken an old idea and done it in a new, interesting fashion. I had a very hard time reading The Hunger Games because it seemed too much like a rip-off of a Japanese book that pre-dated it by 10 years, "Battle Royale." I admit I was the tiniest bit apprehensive going into this story, worrying that it might end up just being a Hunger Games copy (sorry! sorry! I should have known better, having read your stuff before!) but you definitely put my mind to rest with this chapter in particular and reassured me you're doing a classic story idea in a new, creative way. The little snippets you gave us of past tournaments, the one in the paintings in particular, were so imaginative and well described.

Speaking of description, you're amazing! Normally when I review, I like to pick out specific quotes that I thought were especially well done, but that wouldn't work here or else all 6,000 characters in each chapter's review would be used up copying and pasting all of your fabulous descriptions. Almost every single location is something original, but you managed to describe each location so vividly I could see exactly what it must look like. I loved the idea of CC changing almost organically. The way you described all the random buildings here or there kind of reminded me of how limbo looked to Leonardo DiCaprio's character in "Inception;" a village completely created and shaped from the minds of the dead.

Your characterization was 100% spot on. I found Lily and Tonks to be especially well written. I don't know if you have any kids yourself, but the way you wrote both of their grief over leaving their sons behind struck a very personal cord with me, having a toddler boy myself. I admit it was kind of disturbing to me to think that you could still feel that sort of pain and worry in the afterlife, but I guess writing and reading about a perfect heaven would be really boring.

You've done a great job setting up a sense of mystery surrounding the Grotta. I'm guessing it's a sort of purgatory for people deemed less worthy in the afterlife? I wonder if it really is as bad as all the CC residents make it out to be. Maybe it's the tropical feel of CC, but it reminds me of how on "LOST" everyone from the plane thought the "Others" were evil, then it turns out they're just these normal scientists (um, sorry if you've never seen that show and I spoiled something. Don't worry, the show isn't worth spoiling. Bleh.) So I guess I'll have to read on because I highly doubt a talented, organized writer like you would keep hinting at this other location without letting the readers see it first hand.

What else, what else. Lily's ruthlessness was a very nice change from how I usually see her portrayed in fan fiction. I think your version is much more believable. You can bet I'd win that tournament every single year I could if it meant being able to watch my son for an entire day. It's interesting how Lily thinks this makes her a worse person than James. I think it just makes her a mom. It almost seems like she might have belonged in Slytherin like how Severus probably should have been in Gryffindor. You Severus sections were superb, so I really appreciated that since he's my favorite character. I'm obviously worried how things are going to turn out once he's face to face with Lily again since it's pretty obvious she doesn't care much about him anymore except for appreciating his unbelievable sacrifices to protect Harry.

Well, I'm running (haha, no pun intended!) out of words here. There's probably SO much I'm forgetting to write. I'll definitely be reviewing every chapter from now on because that's just how I roll, but thanks for understanding that I was on a pirate-deadline here to get this review in :) This really is an amazing story and you are a fabulous writer! I very rarely find stories of this length that I look forward to coming back to to finish, but this is definitely one I'll want to see until the end. Good luck with your writing! 10/10!

Author's Response: Wow, Renny, what a review!

Lots of people raving, eh? Well I won't lie, that does make me a bit nervous. Whenever something's been talked up, it's hard to meet those expectations. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Regulus and Dobby, ha. XD I love them quite a bit. Regulus is a minor character in this story but I do give him a bit more spotlight than most of the other minor characters. I can't resist; I really like him.

Ahh, The Hunger Games. Yes, that comparison often crops up in reviews at the beginning of this story. While I know that they carry similar vibes of high stakes, I must say that it's really quite different in that it's not a battle to the death at all. It's a tournament in which your mental skills are put to the test more than physical, and the objective isn't to harm anyone else, it's to win. There are various rules for each round that contenders have to adhere to. So winning each round isn't people actually /dueling/, it's just a matter of who's fastest, who's smartest, etc. And then in the end, the loser dies by default and not because someone actually killed them. Just thought I'd clarify that!

So happy to hear that you found so many quote-worthy things! And I'm glad you liked my descriptions. I'm kind of nitpicky about how I write descriptions because I think to myself that I /must/ detail every itty bitty thing about every itty bitty place so that readers will see it /exactly/ as I do. For some reason I hate the idea of leaving certain things up to readers' imaginations, especially settings.

I derive a lot of inspiration with Lily and Tonks and their separation from their sons from how I might feel if I were separated from my daughter. :)

You will definitely see more about the Grotta. It's more of a background thing, but it serves its own importance, existing in the background.

Your comparison to LOST made me laugh. Oh, my, that show got ridiculous towards the end. At first I was like, "Oh, okay! Oh, wow! Why didn't I start watching this ages ago, it's brilliant!" And then as time wore on...well, there was lots of confused frowning and "what just happened, where are they going with this" until the final episode, when it was so ridiculous that I just wanted to throw things. /end rant

Lily's characterization has taken a bit of a detour from canon, just because of her environment and history from death onward. You will see later on how participating every year in the Devil's Duel has shaped her priorities and mindset, what she is willing to risk. It's sad, really, how much she's willing to sacrifice to see her son for a few hours.

Wow, this review was so thorough and detailed! Thank you for taking the time to read and for leaving me this awesome review, and if you continue to read, I hope you enjoy it. :)

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Review #8, by RenfairStatic: nothing ever stays the same.

1st August 2012:
Hi! I'm Renny, and we're doing an obscure ship review challenge over at TGS. How perfect is your story for it, huh?! A review for a TGS challenge based on a story for a TGS challenge :) I don't usually read a lot within this time period because I don't like Marauder stories (though, thankfully, the Marauders don't appear to be in this story) so it will be cool to read a slightly different take on this period of Hogwarts history.

"Andromeda hadn't been disowned yet - though they all knew it was coming- so she had to acknowledge her presence occasionally." --Wow, way to emphasize Narcissa's coldness. Not that I blame her growing up in that family, but it just goes to show how they were all sort of raised to be wives for their future husbands instead of sisters who loved and cherished each other.

I'm always a bit confused when fan fic writers have wizards believing in Merlin as their god since many wizards in canon said "Oh my God" or things like that. But hey, that's fan fiction for you! It's nice to have the freedom to do whatever you want. ("fan-non?" is that a word? It seems like it should be). At the very least, the idea that there's no God would make it easier to understand how a person like Voldemort would rise to power... or maybe not. The Crusades weren't exactly a tea party after all.

"I'm not going to brutally murder you and dispose of your body behind the Hog's Head, if you were wondering," --She's NOT?! But I thought that's what ALL Slytherins do! Sorry, I get so annoyed with the whole all-Slytherins-besides-Snape-are-evil thing in canon sometimes. I'm really glad at least you're emphasizing what a decent person Andromeda was, and at least Narcissa is *trying* to be slightly more open-minded and think for herself. But that line did make me laugh. Mmm, dead Gryffindors make good food for Aberforth's goats. Yum.

Well, I guess we all knew starting out that this romance would be short-lived. Alice and Frank need to get together so they can join the Order and get to work on little Neville and obviously Narcissa ends up a Malfoy. This pairing you made is interesting because the reader is left wondering if maybe when Bellatrix tortures the Longbottoms into madness, she went so far because of revenge for Frank daring to meddle with her perfect little sister.

It was nice that Narcissa had a little bit of exposure to "the other side," no matter how brief to show her that not everyone in the wizarding world thinks like her parents and the Malfoys. The way you ended it was nice as well because we're left hoping that maybe Lucius isn't so bad after all and Narcissa might end up not completely miserable married to him.

Well, this was certainly a pairing *I* would never have thought up myself. Definitely an interesting read! Good job!

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Review #9, by RenfairInto the Darkness: Standing on the Edge

31st July 2012:
Hi, Susan! I've wanted to read one of your stories since...oh...forever. :) I was scanning your author page looking for a banner with actors from the movies on it for the review challenge at TGS (you did NOT make that easy! Though they're all gorgeous, and I actually prefer banners without movie actors to see how the authors imagined their characters to look, not Hollywood.) Lo and behold I found one that so happened to have my absolute favorite character and about two of my favorite time periods with him. I'm always so interested to read what other writers do with Snape since he's so enigmatic and has so many layers.

So right off the bat I can see why you're a legendary author at TGS. I haven't read as much fan fiction as other people, though the review challenges are helping me out a ton to broaden my horizons, but I find there are usually several types of writers on this site. Some aren't very developed yet, maybe because they're young (and if so, how awesome is it that they're writing?!) and tend to not flesh out their stories or fall into cliche traps, but then there are some like you who I can tell have been doing this for a long time. Straight away you've hooked me with your attention to detail, something I always greatly appreciate. Descriptions like Snape's disdain for Dumbledore's sugary passwords or him commanding the revolving stairs to stop moving (something I never would have thought of myself at all) really make your writing truly enjoyable. I'm already looking forward to reading what else you come up with, especially how you deal with canon events. The writers I truly respect the most are the ones who are able to write brilliantly within canon, even if it's pre-X-book canon since those of us who have been writing for a while kind of got stuck in that respect with our stories sort of ending up AU on us. SO...on to the actual review now that I've rambled your ear off!

"Had he ever tried, he could have been handsome, with a long solemn face, intense eyes, and strong features. But the hardness of his heart was what would keep him from ever being so." --I think this is what every single person who's in love with Snape thinks. He *is* hot! In my mind! He just needed to care about himself more.

Ah, ok. It took me a second to remember that we're pre-DH here, so obviously we didn't know about Severus's true motivations for joining the Order yet. It's funny how quickly we forget that we used to not have all of the answers. I definitely like your reasoning, that he joined because it was simply the right thing to do. That's kind of what I had thought as well because the idea of him being in love with Lily at the time seemed just so stupid to me. I ended up really loving how JKR handled that aspect, but I personally wanted to believe that deep down, Severus was just a decent person and couldn't stomach seeing such atrocities committed in front of him.

"Even years of practising Occulmency could not protect him from the gaze of Albus Dumbledore." --I also always had the idea that Dumbledore would be the only person in the world (besides Lily) who could see through Severus's protective facade. It's cool that we think alike :)

"He reveled in the knowledge he had of both sides in this new war." Sort of like by risking his life, it made him more alive where Voldemort was unable to truly live because he was so focused on preserving his own life. Interesting.

What's also really interesting about this one-shot is that I feel like you never truly proved one way or the other what side Severus was truly on. I think depending on the reader's preconceived notions of Severus's loyalties, it can go either way. You have Severus not wanting to give up Dumbledore's weakness, which could mean he either wanted to protect Dumbledore or the weakness, which we assume is Harry. You have the mysterious She, which most of us would now think is Lily, but at this time it could have meant anyone, maybe a remembrance of Severus's mother telling him to do the right thing. You have Severus say, "This could be his chance to prove to the Dark Lord that he was loyal..." but does that mean that he IS loyal, or that he just wants the Dark Lord to BELIEVE he's loyal? So unless I just somehow missed an obvious clue (I did have my toddler hanging off of me, refusing to nap while I was trying to read this) it seems like you managed to do a very accurate character portrait of Snape without deciding definitively what side he was on.

This was a great read, and I'm glad I was finally able to check out your writing :) Great job!

Author's Response: Wow! Ever since I've received this review, I've just stared at it when I should be responding to it. I did not expect to get a review for this story, though once I started reading what you said, it makes sense - it's the only real Snape story I have, one that places him in the starring role, one that's untouched by romance. This reminds me that I need to write another Snape story. It's been so long! The other great surprise was seeing your name on the review! You're one of the biggest Snape writers out there and I'm incredibly envious of your talent in writing him, and for you continuing to write Snape/OC. It's so good to see people still writing it.

What's extraordinary about your review for this particular story is that this is one of my oldest stories - I was only 18 when I wrote this, so for me, it's still from an early-ish stage. It was edited the year after, but all the same, it still feels like forever-ago that I wrote this. But like you said, many of the writers on this site are very young (so young that 18 would sound old to them *shudders*). It's a wonderful compliment that, even when I wrote this story, I was in that second group. :D

Oddly enough, since you mention it, I love to work within canon - the presence of a set structure makes me feel more comfortable I guess. Fanfiction is all about canon - whether you want to break it or go with it, you can't ignore its presence. The best fanfiction for me is the "missing moment" type - those that depict alternate points of view (predominately Snape's, but others too :P) and moments that were left out of the books. I don't like changing things too much, even in AU situations. This mindset does, however, mean that ships like Snape/OC and Snape/Hermione became impossible for me after the last book came out - I'm only starting to think about approaching them again now.

Oh yes, I agree that Snape had the potential to be good-looking, if only he tried more. I've always seen him as an opposite to James (which is what JKR wanted us to see as well, I think), but only in nurture, not nature. James was the spoiled only son - Severus was the only son of an abusive relationship. One grew up rich, the other poor. One was loved, the other not. It changes everything. Lily's influence could only do so much - Severus would have always been in the darkness, even if his nature never quite fit. He was always different, even from the Death Eaters.

Like you, I prefer the idea of Severus not doing everything /only/ for Lily (JKR's emphasis on the love aspect was on the overdone side), but rather because he thought Voldemort was wrong. And if he only did do it for Lily, then what does it say about him? It makes sense in that no one but Lily ever gave him affection, ever gave him anything for that matter, but at the same time, it's very selfish that he only cares about her, whether for her sake or his, when countless others are suffering. As for Snape's loyalty, what I admired JKR for doing was placing Snape in the grey area for so long. His motives are never clear until the very end, and that must have been difficult for her to keep up, especially since she knew how she was going to end it. In this story, I did include shades of Lily (the mysterious She), but I never expected it to actually turn out that way in canon! (Cor_Leonis was the first I knew of to write Snape/Lily long before DH came out). But I did intend to keep Snape's loyalty up in the air, partially because I couldn't decide which way he'd go, and also because it leaves things up to the reader, letting them pick out the clues and decide for themselves. I like to put the reader to work. ;)

I think I'm going to have to cut this response short. *cries* This always happens with the interesting reviewers, but if you want to talk more about Snape, just get in touch with me at TGS or the HPFF forums. :D Thank you again for this amazing review! It means a lot to hear these compliments from you!

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Review #10, by RenfairWhole: Whole

27th July 2012:
Hi! We're doing a review challenge at TGS and needed to find a story that mentioned a magical animal or plant. I figured a Charlie-centered story would be a safe bet, and I stumbled onto yours :)

Right off I have to say you've done a great job with Charlie's voice. I actually thought you might be one of the seemingly rare male HPFF writers until I scrolled down here to start my review and saw your name. I really appreciate the creative details you've added right off the bat like the picture-developing potion being brewed wrong so the photo doesn't move. Sometimes writers are so focused on advancing the plot they forget to flesh out their world with little things here or there to add character and make their world believable.

I like the alternating first person POV format with Sara sandwiched in the middle. I use the same format in two of my stories, but alternating every chapter so seeing it done in a one-shot is interesting.

"This was a bad idea. I should've told him sooner. I shouldn't have surprised him like this, out of the blue." Well, at least you realized it, Sara. Yikes. I raised my eyebrows a bit when she blurted out the introduction, and find it a little odd that she named her daughter after herself (but hey, I guess people must do it sometimes) but maybe her bluntness would make more sense if I was already familiar with her character from other stories in your Sara series. Charlie does come across as being a little bit of a stronger character, but that's probably because we all have some innate understanding of how his personality might be from the original books. At least Sara's making him take responsibility! Good for her!

I can definitely see Charlie wanting to keep both Annas far away because of the danger they could be in. I wonder if Mom-Sara ended up heeding his advice and waiting until the war was over to try to make a family out of them all. On a personal level I'm glad you made Charlie hesitant about accepting responsibility because he loves her and not just because he's a total loser. I would hope any son of Molly Weasley would grow up to respect women on some level. :)

Nice one-shot! I always love reading stories from new-to-me writers :)

Author's Response: Thank you! first off, I've never been that flattered to be mistaken for male :P

The focus on details and little plot-irrelevant things is intentional, because i felt it ties in to the stream-of-consciousness-ish style. The alternating POVs is something carried over from the original Sara story. I think that as the narrative is as internal as it is, it's necessary to show what the other person feels as well just to round out what's actually happening.

I think the names have got you a tiny bit confused. Sara is the baby - the mum's name is Anna.

I thought of Charlie as a womanizer who, deep down, has a soft side. When he does have feelings, they're strong feelings. And obviously Molly instilled respect for women in all six of her boys ;)

Thank you so much for this lovely review!

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Review #11, by RenfairSeeking a Legacy: Seeking a Legacy

26th July 2012:
Hi Jo! We're doing a review challenge over the The Golden Snitches forum where we had to read and review a story featuring a Quidditch match, and I stumbled onto yours! Thank goodness I did because you have no idea how hard it is to actually find a story dealing with a true match and not just talking about so-and-so being a Quidditch god or whatever (*eye roll*).

I normally don't go for Quidditch or Next Gen stuff very much at all, but I've always liked your writing, so it was cool to read something else of yours. It's really cool that you wrote this a while back way before Next Gen got so trendy and popular. I really appreciated how you made up a lot of OCs to be on Lily's team instead of just throwing all the other Next Gen kids in there with her. One thing I normally DON'T like about Next Gen (and this is really because of how it is in canon and not because of what fan fic writers do) is how every family is insanely intermarried and connected. It kind of gets on my nerves how basically the trio and their close friends all ended up being relatives. Obviously you mentioned this, because it is canon and wouldn't be realistic if you didn't, but like I said I liked how you introduced new characters like Xavier to flesh out the cast and not make it only the SAME PEOPLE we hear about all the time. (and about 1,000 bonus points to you for not making it a match against Slytherin with Scorpius as rival Seeker and they fall in love :D)

Another thing I REALLY liked was how you made the Quidditch match go on for so long. In the books they mention a few times how some matches have gone of for literally weeks and months, yet it always seemed like Harry caught the Snitch in like five minutes! Ok, maybe he was just really gifted as a Seeker or JKR hated writing the matches that much, but it got on my nerves. It was also neat how no goals were scored. I always thought Quidditch would be more like hockey where there's so much back and forth there aren't very many goals, but again in the books, goals are scored left and right. Kind of makes you wonder what all the other players are doing. The flow and pacing of this was really good as well. You kept the excitement of the match balanced with enough description to flesh out each moment.

So over all, great job! It really helped me reading this to not have to encounter all the same Next Gen cliches like I usually find when I attempt to read a story from that era. Don't know if you'll even see this review given how busy busy busy your life is right now, but I hope if you do notice it, it helped brighten your day a bit (cause new reviews are always fun!!) Talk to you later!

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Review #12, by RenfairCrown: camels and countesses

23rd July 2012:
Hi! I thought I'd check out this story for the TGS review challenge since I needed to find one where Neville was mentioned (and this qualifies, since "Neville" appears exactly once :D). First off, I think it was brilliant to combine "Alice in Wonderland" with the Harry Potter books since, obviously, they both deal with a fantasy world and have a character named Alice. Silly me didn't even make this connection right away since I wasn't thinking of the HP Alice when I started reading it, but when it finally occurred to me I wanted to smack myself on the head for not thinking up such a great idea myself.

I read "Alice in Wonderland" years and years ago, so I can't really comment on your recreation of that story's wording. However, the way you write definitely seems to fit in with that time period, and I remember the original story reading as pretty darn manic, and you're doing a great job with that here. I feel like I need to take a tranquilizer to slow down my reading since it's so jumbled yet so coherent at the same time.

"Surely they weren't going to sweep the grass? It wasn't very practical at all! There were much better ways to clean grass, Alice knew, and there were certainly better ones with which to clean broomsticks." --It's always interesting to read about an outsider viewing Hogwarts and magic for the first time. As much as we love the HP world, I'm sure all of us have at one point thought, "Couldn't they think up a better mode of transportation than flying brooms? A bike seat can be uncomfortable, so think about sitting on a thin piece of round wood."

I loved the entire part with Dumbledore-Caterpillar and his infuriating use of homonyms. Like the entire idea for this story, you seem really talented at taking things that should be obvious to the rest of us but using them in a new, incredibly interesting way. Like Neville's grandmother being the Dutchess (how fitting!) and all the flower-named female characters in the garden! Wow! It even fits that they're from all different time periods since this is obviously wacky, wonderland Hogwarts.

"I'm a Peeves Cat," said the Cat. "I'm here to appease." --Ah! I thought maybe it would be Crookshanks, but having the character be Peeves makes much more sense. He really IS like the Cheshire Cat, isn't he? The Mad Potter bit should have clued me in right away.

The entire section of introducing the "Black" Queen through this: "And, as it turns out, screaming and loving are not so different. Alice fell for a very long time," was really exceptionally well done.

"God, what a morning." --Can I please just hug you for a moment for ACTUALLY using "God" and not "Merlin" here?!?! The whole Merlin thing is one of my biggest pet peeves reading fan fiction because it really has no basis in canon and the HP characters say God all the time. THANK YOU! That bit aside, the exchange between the two healers was very sad to read, but also very realistic. I think anyone who has ever worked in a social services or healthcare type environment would agree that there are always some people who are just there for a paycheck and could care less about the residents/patients/etc. and a few, usually taken for granted, ones who really care about their work and genuinely want to help others.

Forgive me while I beat myself over the head with a mallet for once again not having the thought that all of this could be in Alice's mind in the hospital. I feel like after reading this story I need to find out what other story could have possibly won the Dobby over yours because this entire piece was just so well-written and fascinating! I truly haven't stumbled onto a fic this well-done and creative in a really long time. I'm in awe! 10/10 for sure!

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Review #13, by RenfairRowan and Phoenix: Snowdonia

22nd July 2012:
Mary Mary Mary! There's no review challenge posted yet, I'm banging my head off of my desk thinking about my own two stories, and I'm not ready to forfeit myself to the couch and TV, so I had a light bulb moment of realizing it's been a VERY long time since I caught up with Severus and Lily :) I think I was sort of subconsciously avoiding this story for a little while because I knew I was getting close to the end of what you posted, and I didn't want to have to wait for more. But no pressure. I know I'm having a hard time myself dealing with the pressure of knowing there are actually a few people out there right now waiting for me to write. *sigh*

I've never read that one-shot by Georgia, but now I want to :) That was a wonderfully creepy dream with how it changed from something Lily desperately wanted to hold onto into a nightmare she couldn't escape.

"Severus stepped out of bed, partly wrapped in the sheet, which fell to the ground as he walked forward. The rowan wand trembled in his right hand. To Lily, he was achingly vulnerable and beautiful and wanted." -- *melting* Especially the last sentence. Wonderful! (and smacking myself for assuming he had no clothes on. Bad Renny! Bad!)

"With two running strides across the bedroom floor, she was in his arms." --Oh thank goodness. I was worried for a moment it was going to turn into one of those big misunderstanding things where no one seems to be able to just SAY what they truly mean and everyone ends up hurt. Yeah, those have their place, but I'm glad Lily didn't let Severus suffer and think she didn't want to be with him.

Ah, anti-falling and anti-choking charms. You know exactly what a mother of a magical toddler would do :) Gotta love smearing kids! At least it was bananas and not tomato sauce.

Ugh, at the end already?! Sometimes I wish your chapters were longer because I could just read and read, but you always end them well and for a good reason, so I can't complain too much. One chapter left! You better be writing! Oh, but no pressure, remember? Great chapter, as is only to be expected from you!

Author's Response: Thanks Renny! I know, I wish I could get these chapters to come out longer, too. It's something I'm working on. Definitely take a look at Georgia's story, it's lovely. :)

I hope people aren't feeling jerked around by Severus and Lily's difficulties at this point. I'm trying to make their reactions as realistic as I can, considering the very short time between James's murder and this chapter. We will continue to hope for the best for these two. I so appreciate your comments as always :)

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Review #14, by RenfairPas de Deux: Pas de Deux

21st July 2012:
Hi! It's Renny from TGS :) This story immediately came to mind for the Hufflepuff-themed review challenge since I figured I would try to find something about Tonks, and I had just stumbled onto this story a little while ago. Seems to fit perfectly!

This story caught my eye at first since I used to study ballet myself so have seen countless amounts of them performed and I also got to do a tiny bit of partnering myself (which was one of the most fun things I've ever done in my life). I really like your idea of the lives of Remus and Tonks being like a pas de deux since I always thought they complimented each other really well. I like how you take it a step further making their final dance together be the battle in which they both fought together and were ultimately killed.

One thing I really liked in particular was how you had Remus refer to her as Nymphadora throughout. We know from canon that she HATED being called that, but I would imagine she might have allowed Remus to be the one person to use her full name :) It definitely shows a sense of intimacy between then.

Throughout the piece I was a little thrown by the fact that Remus was so focused on Nymphadora as his partner and didn't mention at all her role as the mother to their son, but then you did bring that element in at the end as Remus's final thought which I thought was really nice. It's very believable that in the heat of battle he would be so focused on what's directly in front of him (Tonks dying) that he would forget about Teddy for just a moment. You managed to draw out those final moments really well so that they felt both fleeting and like an eternity.

The section in particular where Remus was forcing himself to relive Nymphadora's final moment was well done. Even when it's something painful (or maybe especially in that case) we tend to go through every detail over and over in order to process it.

"It leaves his wand and fills my body with a warm liquid as smooth and thick as honey. It pours down my throat and into my lungs until Iím drowning in it." --That was a really well-done imagine (especially the honey reference, which is obviously something normally sweet and pleasant, so maybe subconsciously not such a bad death because he knew he would be reunited with his wife soon).

I was never a huge Remus or Tonks fan in the books (I didn't dislike them, but they weren't my favorite either) but I was definitely annoyed with how their death was sort of mentioned in passing then never fully explained or acknowledged. I enjoyed reading how you fleshed out that moment and gave them both the dignity and emotion their deaths deserved. Good job!

Author's Response: Renny, I'm so sorry for taking this long to respond. But thank you for the review. I genuinely appreciate it!

Gosh, I wrote this so long ago that it seems like it was written by someone else! I'm glad you enjoyed it, though. I do remember that I had a fun time writing it (not because of the subject matter, but the style). I have such a soft spot for Remus and Tonks. I wanted to write their death because they deserved more of a spotlight, and a happy ending.

Thank you again for the review. :)

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Review #15, by RenfairI Am Man, Hear Me Roar: Dominique

18th July 2012:
Hi! I decided to read and review this story for the ultimate review challenge at TGS because the title and banner just assured me right off the bat this story would be funny :) I normally don't prefer Next-Gen stories at all, but this looked too good to pass up. I will also shamelessly admit I like pretty boys. Well, pretty boys with long hair at least. I figure my husband can't mind if I look at pretty boys when they look more like a girl than I do (or something like that).

I'm one of those few fan fic writers who isn't obsessed with the Next-Gen kids and all their ridiculous assumed hi-jinks (and dating shenanigans), so I honestly didn't even know who Dom was besides a vague feeling he/she was Fleur's kid cause of the French name. I guess I never would have assumed it to be a girl since a lot of male French names are pretty femmie to English-speakers (like Michael being pronounced like Michelle and all). So I think the idea you had of making Dom a poor, poor boy with an embarrassing name was just great. I think in this day and age with all the weird baby names out there (believe me, there are a lot since I just had a baby a while ago and was kind of looking into that sort of thing) this is even MORE relevant! Your idea also reminds me of back in the olden olden days of pre-HBP fan fic when everyone assumed Blaise Zabini was a girl as well.

"I thought I'd need bleeding therapy after having my name read as "Miss Weasley" at the beginning of every single class." --Oh that's just horrible!! That's bad enough when you're older, but when you're entering school at 11 with a bunch of other kids you don't know? And I thought having my last name mispronounced until I got married was bad.

"Albus has a wonky name..." --Yes, I agree. I was actually just thinking about that last night, in fact. Severus Albus would have been WAY hotter!

"...and was scouted by none other than the Holyhead Harpies in my seventh year" --Hahaha! You have some really funny situations in here! Good job!!

Over all, very funny and amusing :) If you ever have any friends who are planning a weirdo name for their baby, print this out and slip it discreetly into their mailbox or maybe tied scroll-style around the neck of a teddy bear or something.

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Review #16, by RenfairNever in Vain: Never Last, Never Least.

15th July 2012:
Hi! It's Renny from TGS, treasure-hunting your story avec animated banner for our review challenge ;)

Besides the really cool banner, this story grabbed me right away with the "Other Canon" character listing. I'm always interested when stories contain characters who apparently weren't important enough to be listed on the site (granted a lot have to be, or else the character selection list would be about a million people long with all the random characters JKR thought up). I was further intrigued when I took me at least halfway through the story to realize who it was about. The basilisk made me think Ginny, but I figured that wasn't right since she's a main character and the way you worded the opening made me pretty sure this person wasn't going to survive the night.

I got really sad when I figured out it was Colin since then I was sure he was going to die. It was extra sad thinking of him fighting in his pajamas, really like a little boy who was supposed to be home in bed and not fighting a war. I thought you did a really good job throughout making the battle seem realistic describing Colin's fatigue and how hard it was at every juncture for him to keep going. I feel like a lot of times in fantasy stories wars and battles are glorified, making them seem like these amazing, epic series of events when they're really just horrible and the people involved are trying to just stay alive for one more moment. JKR was really good about emphasizing this with how hard everything was for Harry, and I think you did just as good of a job here.

It's been a while since I've read DH, so I couldn't remember why Colin wasn't supposed to be at the school, but when I did remember it made it even more sad. I definitely believe the reasoning you created that Colin wanted to fight for Harry for once. In the end, Colin was a true Gryffindor who couldn't sit home and do nothing while his friends were defending his school and home.

This was a really great, though very sobering, piece! Good work!

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Review #17, by RenfairA Boy, His Wife to be and his Mistress: A Boy, His Wife to be and his Mistress

14th July 2012:
Hi Elena!! So, we're doing a crazy pirate-themed review challenge over at The Golden Snitches (AAARGH) and I needed to hunt down a story focusing on infidelity to review. I was so surpised and happy to stumble onto this one when searching through HPFF cause I've really been wanting to get back to your author page, but my own writing and real-life stuff has been getting in the way of a lot of reading. Hence why this reviewing thing is cool because it's forcing me to make more time to read and review ;)

So, I would normally under no circumstances read a Dramione willingly unless someone was asking for help with it or something, but it was good for me to read something out of my comfort zone. I like how, even though you have the Heads have their own dorms like some other fics do, you make them still able to sleep in their own dorms as well. That removed the cliche factor for me because that meant Draco and Hermione weren't being thrown together ever single second, you know?

I can't seem to figure out copying and pasting on my husband's darn iPad, but I really liked the description in the seventh paragraph about Hermione's appearance getting more and more run-down and tired (presumably as their N.E.W.T. work increased). I've read a couple Dramiones in the past, and it was very refreshing to see her described here as looking pretty much like she does in the books when overwhelmed with schoolwork. I hate it when people suddenly turn Hermione into a model, so I appreciate you keeping her real :)

Another thing I liked about this one-shot was how you also avoided the cliche of Hermione falling in love with Draco because he's a "bad boy" or "misunderstood and tortured" or whatever a lot of people tend to do to explain how they ended up together. Hermione's always having to be Little Miss Perfect, and she finally grows sick of it. She sleeps with Draco just because she knows it's the WRONG thing to do, not because it's secretly right because "no one understands how wonderful Draco really is underneath all of his pure-blood prejudice, bullying, and general scum-bag nature." :)

I did find the words in bold to be a little bit distracting, but it wasn't that big of a deal. I know not everyone has the same formatting style as I do when writing :D

Hmmm, somehow I wasn't surprised when Pansy let Draco know (very effectively) that she was aware he was cheating on her. The woman ALWAYS knows, and the man is always SO surprised (ugh, *eye roll at most men*) I'm also not surprised that she's fine with it as long as he keeps it quiet and puts up a good front for their future family since that seems what a lot of powerful women married to powerful men do when in this situation. It's really sad, in a way, that their reputation and outer appearances is more important to them than love. Oh well. People are free to make their own choices.

Well, it was nice coming back to read another story of yours! Good job writing a Dramione that didn't make me want to vomit (that's really a HUGE accomplishment! Take it as a correspondingly huge compliment!) ;) Take care!!

Author's Response: LOL - Thank you for taking the time to read and review. I actually really like this story and eventually, plan on writing a sequel. I'm buried in my OF writing, but often come back to my FF for inspiration :)

Glad it didn't make you vomit and enjoy the challenge on TGS :)

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Review #18, by RenfairThe Noble House of Black: Four

11th July 2012:
Ooh, I had no idea this was based on the actual Black family tree! I noticed Phineas, of course, so assumed the time period from that, but I've never been very interested in the Blacks in general (kind of hating Sirius the Latter and all) so I didn't know all of these other character names were canon. Cool!!

Ok, so I guess I overestimated Sirius's level of crazy. I really thought he was going to do the Muggle in and at LEAST lock up his sister forever if not downright kill her for defiling the family honor (ok, I guess I've read too many books about the Saudi royal family...) I'm glad Isla got to run away in the end and that Ella set her free. It was nice to have the story end on a positive note, though there was that feeling of Ella knowing her own family was basically scum mixed in.

"Hidden in shadow, I watched Isla run down the track, her hair dancing behind her, mud leaping up her skirts, bathed in celestial, glorious light. She was smaller, a young girl, a girl I had always loved, a girl chasing butterflies, whose soft hair I had plaited moments before, whose smile lit up the room and whose eyes were as brightly dark as the night." --That was really beautifully written. If I think about it too much it's going to make me cry because my own little sister had to move away with my family while I stayed and was in college and got married. They really do grow up so fast and you wonder where the little girl went.

This was fun to read and review! I'm LOVING this review challenge thing because it's forcing me to make time to read fan fiction, something I haven't done consistently for years now with work then having a baby. I especially like how it's making me search out characters and time periods I normally wouldn't gravitate to. I mean, obscure Black family members in the nineteenth century?? How random is that?! LOVE IT! So... I hope these new reviews helped brighten your day a bit because your own for my story are certainly lighting mine up like a Christmas tree! Good job with this short story, and see you around TGS and HPFF! ~Renny

Author's Response: Hey again Renny!

Eek, the final chapter! Yes, indeed! Maybe I should have mentioned that in the first author's note...but never mind! Someone actually pointed out to me that Sirius the elder died when he was about 7, so, y'know, oops! But artistic license and whatever, haha!

When I rewrite this I might actually change what he does. Maybe he'll go a bit more crazy, I'm not sure. But I also wanted to give Isla the chance to run away with the muggle and give Ella the chance to redeem but we'll see. Ohh, I'm sorry to make you feel sad! I've got two older sisters and they always say that I've grown up really quickly all of a sudden - but it's strange because you never really notice it happening! I've grown up always wanting to be older like them, and they've always wanted the opposite! Sisters, eh.

I'm really glad you enjoyed this, and thanks so much for taking the time out to review! I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to get round to responding.

Laura xxx

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Review #19, by RenfairThe Noble House of Black: Three

11th July 2012:
"As I swept through the corridors, my dress flew out behind me like leaves caught in the wind." --That was a really nice description! Definitely fitting since I would imagine Ella must feel very lost like she's also being tossed in the wind at the moment and needing her (not scary) brother to anchor her back down.

I like how you have Ella not even know the names of some of the house-elves (or if she does, she doesn't deem them important enough to use them.) It's a subtle reminder of how the privileged witches and wizards considered the house-elves to be so far beneath them it's like they're part of the house like the furniture and not sentient beings. A lady in a grand Muggle house would certainly know the names of the servants, at least the ones who served upstairs, but house-elves don't even get that :(

Some might say that Sirius's reaction was a bit over the top, but I don't think it was. I would imagine back then it was already getting hard to find other pure-bloods to marry who you weren't related to, so for pure-blood families, maintaining that honor would have been more important than anything. They would have viewed what Isla did as the worst possible action in the world because not only did she sully their reputation, making it then impossible for them to move in society or make good pure-blood matches for the unmarried siblings, but she did it with a Muggle which really was the ultimate betrayal of what their whole family stands for. If I was Sirius (thank goodness I'm not...geez!) I'd blow a gasket, too.

I don't have a good feeling at all about what Sirius is about to do. I'm pretty sure this Robert Hitchens guy won't live to see tomorrow, but I wonder if Isla will also be "dealt with" in the same way. I wouldn't put it past Sirius to do it. He seems rich and powerful enough to get away with anything. One more chapter! Let's see what happens!

Author's Response: Hey again!

I really liked writing Ella, just because she's such a snobbish character and I guess I avoid writing characters like that. Again I do think I need to go back and make her more representative of the time period but I'm really glad there were elements of her character that spoke out to you.

Yeah, the thing I really wanted to highlight with this is that Muggle's really really are the bottom of the bottom and the lowest of the low. Like, dating a muggle is so incomprehensible to Sirius and the family because it's just not an option, and because of this he totally doesn't know how to act - so reacts.

Thanks for your reviews! :)

Laura xxx

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Review #20, by RenfairThe Noble House of Black: Two

11th July 2012:
I like the little short intros at the beginning of each chapter. They sort of remind me of a character's narration during a movie or something. They also give a good sense of foreshadowing because the reader knows something horrible happened, but we have to go back in time a bit to see what it was and what led up to it.

"I've noticed Isla act funny, too" --the "funny" just threw me a teeny bit. It didn't seem to fit the upperclass, period tone you've set for this story. I wonder if something more like "odd," "queer," "strangely," or "singularly" might work better?

Ugh, I'm SO glad I didn't live back then! You've done a really good job of describing the underlying general boredom in this chapter. Basically we're all rich and don't have anything to keep us occupied (like, you know, EMPLOYMENT) so we'll sit around dissecting the tiniest detail like our sister being sick. Of course the implication that she might have a secret and thus be potentially threatening the family honor IS a big deal... but still. I probably would have gone insane back then with all of the drawing room intrigue and back-stabbing.

Oh, so I guess I was wrong about maybe the girls being too good for Hogwarts because it looks like it might be the other way around. It's a very good point Sirius makes that they drew attention to themselves thus making any tiny slip-up of theirs in the future that much more glaring. Hmmm...

Uh oh, and the plot thickens... a filthy Muggle! Eeew! Not that I really blame Isla since her family sounds pretty repressive. That can't be much fun...

Author's Response: Hey again!

After a hiatus and then returning to fanfiction and rereading over all my fics I definitely agree with you about the 'funny' thing. I think there are a few places I kind of drop the archaic dialect which accidentally makes it quite jarring. I'll be getting round to fixing that as soon as :)

Haha yeah gosh I bet it was SO boring back in those days! Reading it back I kind of wish I had set up more of their lives - I feel like this is a very direct and to the point story when I could have added more and fleshed it out etc. But it's great you enjoyed this chapter!

Thanks again for the reviews! Laura xxx

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Review #21, by RenfairThe Noble House of Black: One

11th July 2012:
Hi!! Well, I always feel very guilty when I receive incredibly long nice reviews, so I wanted to pop over to repay the favor and knock out another ultimate review challenge all in one fell swoop :D I think I lucked out immensely finding this hidden gem tucked away in the new stories thread over at TGS. I mean, you had me right at the banner: Colin Firth? Yes please! I also love that it's a different time period than usual because I'm not into Sirius at all, so reading about different Blacks will be really cool!

First off, I love the phrase "chief wandmasters." Did you make that up yourself? It really brings to mind instantly this magical equivalent of a gentleman in that time period, even more when you think about how they had to be skilled at things like fencing and hunting. I would think rich wizards back then would have been almost required to be experts at magic, if only because they had the money to pay really expensive private tutors if their skills were lacking.

"Before dawn she has usually risen, and it is only at dinner I see her again in the day." --Hmm, seems like a good arrangement for a marriage back then. Very Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins.

I found the sort of old-fashioned voice to be very consistent throughout the chapter and helped set the tone for the piece since it's obviously a very different time period than the books. I liked the references to the changes going on like a greater acceptance of Muggle-borns at Hogwarts and also how the girls weren't educated there (I would think maybe it was slightly scandelous for men and women to attend school together, even if it was such an old institution :D)

Ok! Going to keep reading now and maybe get a hint as to what the horrible, dishonourable secret is. It's always the youngest one you have to worry about, isn't it?

Author's Response: Hey there Renny!

Thanks so much with these reviews - you have no idea how helpful they are! I still haven't got round to editing this fic but I feel like I most defiantly will do soon, and when I do I'll be checking back to your reviews for sure!

The main thing I was worried about was trying to keep it within the old fashioned style so it's great you thought it was kinda consistent. It's my biggest worry so that makes me feel a lot better!

Thanks a million for taking the time out to read and review :D

Laura x

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Review #22, by RenfairPortraits of Courage: Remus Lupin

9th July 2012:
Yay! Remus! The one Marauder whose guts I don't hate! Actually, I do rather like Remus. I also especially liked the quote you used for this chapter.

The details in the first few paragraphs were great: Remus looking excitedly at Minerva's books, how on edge he is (understandably since he has nothing to do except wait and expect this horrifically painful thing to happen every single month. And I thought being a woman and having PMS was bad.), and his over-sugaring of his tea. I'm not a smoker, but I'm dying to hand the poor guy a cigarette to calm him down.

"That is not what I expected," he admits, once he's breathing normally again. --Yeah...not quite the T.A. position you had a suspicion about, Remus?

I never thought about Remus trying to recruit werewolves in the first war. I guess it makes sense since he did it the second time around. But he's just so young here, it's scary to think about him doing that.

So I wonder who else you're going to write about here? Peter, obviously, since you've covered the other three. I think leaving him for last is best because I could definitely see McGonagall putting that talk off for as long as she could since she must have had many reservations about having to ask him to join up. This was a really interesting idea for a short story collection. I think you've done a great job with it! ~Renny

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Review #23, by RenfairPortraits of Courage: Sirius Black

9th July 2012:
Ok, I don't like Sirius, but I'm willing to put my personal tastes aside to read what you've done with him :D Though I am loathe to admit it, he was very brave (you know, in a reckless, stupid sort of way.) I like to think that maybe he would have grown up and matured a bit if he hadn't been left to rot in Azkaban for his entire young adulthood.

"She looks at Sirius and she sees a broken, betrayed boy. Despite his easy grin and quick tongue, he is troubled; Sirius is all dark shadows curled around too many childhood secrets." --Ok, you get major brownie points (like mudslide brownies...mmm) for making me feel a fleeting ounce of pity for Sirius. I admit I have my own prejudices, being a Snape fan first and foremost, so I've always been pretty hard on Sirius in my mind. I guess I always gave Snape more lee-way for being a bully to the (dumb) students (who deserved it) because I figured he just had such a horrible life. I never stopped to think about what kind of childhood Sirius had before coming to Hogwarts and how that must have shaped him into the bully he was at school. So yeah, kudos to you for pointing that out to me! I still hate his guts, though.

"She wonders if Dumbledore made the right choice in picking him for the Order." --I wonder what would have happened if he had picked Severus instead? Would he and James have finally worked together since James wouldn't have had his other half? Probably not with Lily in the middle...

I like how you are able to describe the action of Minerva removing the pin differently in each chapter. In general, I think this chapter has the best descriptions so far! One more chapter to go!

Oh, and I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope you'll be adding a Severus chapter to this, since it's still a WIP. I'll get down on my knees and beg if I have to! I'd absolutely LOVE to read what you come up with ;) (and you have my total permission to "spam" me with a PM if you do write one and I haven't been back to review it yet!) ~Renny

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Review #24, by RenfairPortraits of Courage: Lily Evans

9th July 2012:
One thing I love about Harry Potter is how JKR really made women just as important as men in the wars against Voldemort. I especially appreciate the extra power she gave to mothers like how it was Molly who killed Bellatrix, not Sirius in his duel or another Auror, and how Narcissa basically risked her own life both when she went to Severus for help and also when she lied about Harry being dead to learn Draco's fate. Of course Lily isn't a mother here yet, but she's always been a character I really admire.

Putting Lily's chapter right after James was a good move. Obviously the two sort of go together, but it also created a good contrast between the two. Both are loyal and brave, but James is more animated in his eagerness while Lily is reserved and sober, but wanting to help just as much. Her rumpled clothes were a nice touch (hahaha, I guess she must be pretty taken with James after all if she would let him, um, "distract" her away from being on time to a meeting with McGonagall.)

"Minerva knows it's not an eagerness to please that brought forth the quick affirmation but that Lily is so steadfast in her loyalty to this school and those who hold a place in her heart, that she'd certainly sacrifice her own life in place of another, or to keep this a secret." --I really like that. With someone like James or Sirius, they might answer so quickly because they're eager to be in on the secret, but Lily is very guileless and simply would never consider needing to answer any other way.

I've always thought so, but the way you're writing her, McGonagall is one of the strongest characters in the series. Imagine being able to still carry on and fight in another war with the crippling guilt she must have had when it turns out she really did, in essence, hand out death sentences to these kids?

I know the two pieces aren't connected, but this one really goes well with "Into the Darkness of the Grave."

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Review #25, by RenfairPortraits of Courage: James Potter

9th July 2012:
"Snape put - " he almost slithers out of his seat as he tries to scratch his back, " - itching." --HahaHA! And I bet you deserved it, you horrible little toerag! (sorry, sorry. I just really hate James and Sirius.)

"He was going to hurt Peter if I didn't step in." --And I bet HE deserved it, too! (sorry! I'll try to stop!)

"We need you to be courageous and noble, not stupid and reckless." --THAT will be hard for him. (ah! There I go again!! Blame it on your good writing. I always respect fan fic writers who make me hate James as much as in the books, as well as the ones who are able to make me feel a tiny, smidgen of pity... but that doesn't happen too often. He's just so...AUGH!!! I HATE HIM!)

I know Dumbledore didn't have a choice since it really should be the professors who know the students best to be the ones to ask them to join the Order, but I still hate the position he put Minerva in (because of this: "She can't help feeling like these children are hers, and it's her duty to protect them, keep them safe.") It had to be done, and sacrifices had to be made, but I really wonder if anyone in James's group of friends knew what they were getting into. You *think* you know at that age, but you really don't have any idea what a war is like until you've lived through one (or someone you love has been through one).

I love the quotes you have at the beginning of each chapter. They really set the tone well for the corresponding portrait. ~Renny

Author's Response: You didn't have to read James's chapter if you don't like his character. I wouldn't have been offended. You wouldn't have missed much since each chapter can technically stand alone.

I feel really bad for McGonagall in this fic because of the position Dumbledore has put her in. It is hard, but like you said, she knows her students best. Sometimes I think we forget how young they all were when the war started and when lost loved ones, or died. I don't think any of them really knew what they were getting themselves into, at least at first. When you're hidden behind the safety of Hogwarts, I think the real world is sort of like this thing that can't touch them, you know?

The quotes have been marvelous sources of inspiration for each chapter and I'm glad you liked them. Thanks for the review.

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